Wolf kill contest sparks outrage

Shawn Gill, Alaska Highway News
A wolf-kill contest sponsored by local businesses has provoked outrage in the provincial media and has lead to a steady stream of angry letters to the Alaska Highway News from concerned citizens…

The contest is $50 to enter. At the end of the contest, on May 31, the winners will receive prizes ranging between $250 to upwards of $1,000, it has been reported…

The wolf management plan included many techniques to reduce the population of wolves in B.C., including shooting them from a helicopter, increasing the length of hunting and trapping seasons and increasing an individual hunter’s bag limit.

“It sounds like a really backwards, naïve solution” said Kai Chan, a Canada Research Chair and associate professor at UBC’s Institute for Resource, Environment and Sustainability said about the contest. He noted that in many other regions the practice of indiscriminately killing large carnivores to control their population has not worked.

“This is because of wolf population biology,” said Chan, “One of the dangers of shooting the wolves is splintering the pack which can lead to more problems such as renegade wolves.”

Chan said that in some regions, insurance schemes that minimize the economic risk for ranchers and farmers of losing their livestock have played a role in reducing the number of ranchers who kill predators. He noted that this strategy has worked particularly well in India and resulted in fewer tigers being killed by ranchers.

He also said that there are other more humane and more effective ways for ranchers to manage wolves in a non-lethal way.

“In Idaho they’ve had a 90 per cent decline in wolf problems. By using behavioural conditions – loud noises – to scare the wolves away. The idea is that wolves are smart and they are afraid of people. Ranchers can use that to their advantage,” said Chan.

Chris Genovali, executive director at Raincoast Conservation Foundation, says that humans and not the wolves at are at fault for the loss of caribou.

“How we humans are altering the landscape is really the ultimate cause of caribou decline. Whether it’s through logging, building roads and degrading habitat, humans are creating a landscape where it is easier for wolves to predate on caribou. In many areas its not just wolves that are preying on caribou. It’s also cougars, grizzly bears and black bears,” said Genovali.

Genovali said that the province’s new wolf management plan encourages hunters in different regions to kill more wolves, and that wolves are highly complex, highly social, intelligent and sensitive animals that live in family groups.

“I think that when your policy is to kill more wolves, the natural outgrowth of that will be the prize or the wolf-killing derby type of situation.”

To read the full article please visit the Alaska Highway News website.

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.